Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray
There is no doubt that the table saw gets more use over any other stationary power tool. For starters, it’s one of the most accurate tools you can ever operate. However, like any other tool, the table saw requires regular maintenance.
A table saw blade that’s out of tune will not only cut inefficiently, but it can also set the stage for a nasty accident. Whether your table saw is new or used, chances are it requires adjustment for optimal performance. Luckily, tuning up a table saw doesn’t need a PHD in engineering.
In this guide, we take the fear out of this crucial maintenance step to help you get the most out of your table saw.
How Do I Know If My Table Saw Blade Needs a Tune Up?
Novice woodworkers who have spent a lot of time around table saws know when the table saw requires a tune up. However, even a beginner, by paying attention to the table saw blade, you can tell when it needs adjustment.
A tuned table saw runs smoothly, cuts cleanly, and enables you to work in a safe environment. Because table saws are great for precision cutting, little adjustments matter a lot.
With that said, here are some of the most common indicators that your table saw requires tune up:
- Burn marks on the wood
- Rough cuts/Damaged edges/pinched boards
- Pinching and other feed problems
- Taking longer to make cuts
- Cuts will start to feel or sound different
- Misaligned angle cuts
- Stiff drive belts and poorly aligned pulleys
- The blade makes extra “cuttings” than desired
- Excessive vibration
You should always conduct tune ups every time you buy a new table saw or upgrade any accessories.
Safety Tips to Consider Before the Tune Up
I cannot stress this enough. The table saw is a dangerous power tool. So, before doing anything, you will need to practice safety first.
With that said, here are some safety tips to consider before you begin tuning up the table saw blade. They include:
Unplug the Table Saw
The first safety step when dealing with a table saw is to turn off the power and unplug the table saw. If you are using a cordless model, ensure that you disengage the battery. An easier way would be to completely cut power to the table saw.
Nowadays, most table saw models come fitted with extra safety features. These features help prevent accidental start-ups or electric motor engagement. These features come in handy. But, always ensure you unplug the saw for maximum safety.
The table saw consists of many parts working together to rotate the main blade. These parts and accessories undergo wear and tear with time. Therefore, you’ll first need to conduct a thorough inspection of all these parts.
You can start with the belts, bearings, and pulleys. You are looking for any signs of cracks, wear, and fraying. Worn out parts will cause the blade to vibrate; a key indicator that the blade needs to be tuned up. Therefore, anything worn out will need replacement.
Clean, Lubricate, and Protect
After inspection, it’s time to clean the table saw. Start with the table top cast iron. If you notice some rust spots developing, spray it with a mixture of water and white vinegar. Spray it thoroughly and then scrub it down with a high-grit sandpaper.
Ensure that you remove all the rust and wipe it off. Now, wipe the surface of the cast iron with paste wax. The wax protects the cast iron from rusting and helps boards slide smoothly over the surface.
The video below explains all this in greater detail:
Tools You’ll Need for a Proper Table Saw Blade Tune Up
Fortunately, tuning up the table saw blade isn’t rocket science. Neither does it require a lot of expensive tools. Not to mention, you probably already own the majority of these basic tune up tools.
Nevertheless, here are some of the tools that you’ll need to perform a proper table saw blade tune up:
- Feeler Gauges
- Test/ Dial Indicator
- Miter Gauge
- Fine Grit Sandpaper
- Paste Wax
- Dead-blow Mallet
- 12-inch Combination Square
- Any Kind of Drying Lubricant
- Owner’s Manual
- Cleaning Supplies (singing forest creatures, simple green, paper towels)
Aspects You Need to Consider When Tuning Up Your Table Saw
The first thing you’ll have to do is to inspect the blade. A good blade should be flat, free of pitch, and sharp.
You can easily test this by checking how the blade slows down after you turn the machine off. If the blade wobbles, this is a clear indication that the blade needs to be replaced.
Now that you’ve ensured that your blade is sharp, free of pitch, and flat, you’ll need to check the blade alignment. To do this, first raise the blade as high as possible. Choose one carbide tooth on the blade and mark it.
Rotate the blade until that particular carbide is level with the table and closer to the front of the saw. Now measure the distance from one carbide to the miter slot. Rotate the blade again until the marked carbide is closer to the end of the saw. Measure again.
If the distance doesn’t match, you will need to adjust the motor as per the saw’s manual.
The next alignment you need to consider is the fence’s alignment. If there is a misalignment, there is a chance that the saw will be inclined to kickback. This can create a potentially hazardous situation for you.
Since the blade is now aligned, all you have to do is to align the fence to the miter slot. Stand the straight-edge in the miter slot and slide the fence. Ensure that it rests against the straight-edge.
From here, look down the straight edge and try to see if there are any gaps between the fence and the straight edge. Make sure to make adjustments to remove these gaps.
Blade for Square
Now, check whether the blade is square to the miter slot. You can do this by adjusting the saw’s arbor angle to the 0 degree stop.
Now, using a combination square, check whether the blade is 90-degrees to the table. If there’s any sign of misalignment, adjust the arbor’s 0-degree angle. Make sure to use your owner’s manual while doing this.
Next, check if the blade is square. Keep doing this until you achieve a perfect 90-degree angle between the blade and the table.
Now all that’s left is to check the throat plate. For this process, you will need to stand a straight edge perpendicular to the miter slot. Then, push the straight edge across the plate. The plate needs to be on the same level or slightly below the table.
If the throat plate is above the table level, it will make it difficult to push stock through the blade. To make proper adjustments, you’ll need to use the adjustment screws on the plate. Only unscrew 3 of the adjustment screws and leave only one to hold the plate. Then use the dead-blow mallet to make adjustments.
Last Minute Adjustments
If the saw comes with a riving knife or splitter, you’ll need to ensure that it aligns with the blade. Use the straight-edge by placing it on both simultaneously. Make sure that both sides are even. In case of adjustments, refer to the manual for guidance.
Next, check whether the adjustment mechanisms and the dust collection system has any pitch or excessive saw dust. Clean as required.
Check the miter gauge and ensure that it slides freely through all the miter slots. Also ensure that the fence’s locking mechanism doesn’t slip if pressure is applied. Adjust everything as necessary.
With that said, if you are looking for the best-rated table saw in the US, feel free to read our full review guide here.